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- Nationality: Croatia
- Date of birth: 12 July 1981
- Profession: Paragliding Instructor
- Supporter: Adrien Colombié
- Glider: Triple Seven Qlite MS
- Sponsors: Triple Seven Paragliders, Naviter, FLUMEN
When and why did you begin paragliding?I started paragliding in 2005 in Croatia. I always wanted to fly. Actually I wanted to become a military pilot but I was not accepted and I had to find another alternative. I saw once a video of a paraglider and that was love at first sight. It changed my life and the lives of many others, forever.
Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.I was Croatian champion 6 times in a row, won many FAI2 comps, 9th place Superfinal PWC 2009. I am a Croatian representative and have flown Worlds, Europeans and PWC for many years. I have been in too many competitions to list them all, but you can find them on the CIVL FAI rankings.
What is your mountaineering experience?The highest mountain I climbed is Iztaciuathl at 4900m. We go time to time to do high altitude training at Nevado de Toluca, 4700m. Both are much higher than the mountains found in the Alps. Our training terrain is a place with an altitude of 3000m above sea level and the place where I live is at 2000m. This in general gives me a good advantage for training. I have some experience in mountain climbing, using mountain equipment, ropes, harnesses and whatever needed to climb mountains safely.
What is your paragliding experience?I have been flying already thirteen years; the last couple of years professionally on a daily basis. I have been the Croatian Champion 6 times and have won many paragliding competitions. I have been flying PWC for a couple of years on which my best result was 9th place in the Super Final in 2009. I have been Croatian Representative for a couple of years competing at the Europeans and World Championships which at the end brought me to Mexico. My best ranking on FAI was 56th. I can say I have a couple of thousand hours of flight time in XC, but also in acro flying and tandems. I am a paragliding instructor who works full time teaching paragliding, I am the owner of the biggest paragliding school in Mexico, FLUMEN, I teach SIV courses and acro to pilots of all levels. I teach XC flying to beginners but also high level flying for advanced pilots. I do XC guided tours and trips to Colombia and the Alps. I have very good knowledge in piloting, decision making and all the things that a Red Bull X-Alps athlete has to have. Ultimately, I do this on a regular basis as it's my full time job. From my teaching experience and knowledge, I want to mention that I am currently APPI Master Instructor with SIV and XC specialty and also a member of the Pedagogical committee that works on teaching programs worldwide. I cover North and South America as an APPI representative, giving paragliding workshops for professionals covering all topics of theory, piloting, analysis and mental training. As a Croatian representative, I am lucky to have flown many parts of the Alps; and many parts that are on the route to Monaco. I flew in all the alpine countries during various competitions or XC flying so I know the Alps well.
What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?No hike and fly competitions before. You just can't do it all. I did Aerothlon although it's just one day.
What does your typical training week consist of?Combined flying with the workout. So some days we do hike and fly when I am working as an instructor. I climb the mountain walking. Some days I go for a run at 3000m ASL 10k-20k. The days when I am training in the night I do rowing. During the day I mostly fly with the students or tandems. Also, we will be combining some training from my APNEA training. This should work nicely.
What are your best and worst adventure / flying moments?It is hard to pick best moment for flying. Every flight has something magical. Flying over a volcano at 5300m ASL is a good memory. Bad moments, luckily I never had an accident but I have lost some top level pilots and friends through flying.
What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?For me, it's probably this year's 1st place at Monarca in Sport and Serial class and overall 4th on a EN-C glider. I flew so well I was able to win all C and D classes, plus many CCC gliders. If my speed bar had not broken, I would have been third overall. It was definitely an epic result which gained a mention in Cross-Country Magazine and in a podcast with Gavin McClurg.
When and how did you first hear about Red Bull X-Alps?Are you kidding me! I was born with the Red Bull X-Alps tattoo!
Have you competed in Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?Nope.
What appeals to you about Red Bull X-Alps?The challenge. The idea of combining so many things to make it to Monaco is so appealing and interesting. It is not just flying, endurance, intel, support and equipment. It's also the pilot and the team. It is a combination of all the things that have to function like clockwork and that is something that is really challenging to do. Of course being a part of the race itself is something too!
What will be your strategy during the race?Fly more, walk less. Walk optimization and making the most logical routes to combine walking and flying without losing time on the ground. For this we will use intel from back home that will work for us and provide us the best possible information for walk-flight optimization. I am a good pilot so I will take advantage of XC flying and concentrate energy on long flights. Another strategy will be also be to have no fixed plans. These will be made spontaneously to be more mentally flexible and less stressed.
Why do you think you will make it to the finish?We have an excellent team of three, all great at what we do. My supporters are people that trust me and I trust them. They are eyes, feet and hands in the mountains. I am able to fly many days in a row for the whole day. With another year of preparation and dedication, there are no obstacles other than those in our minds. We'll make it, but how is something we'll have to discover.
What scares you the most about the event?Blisters!
Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?We flew in the last XCSKYRACE with Mitch Riley every day for 7 hours plus. I was the organizer of the competition, the driver, lecturer and scorer!